Kitty on Board

funny pictures of cats with captions

How do you travel 3,000 miles with a cat in tow?

Well, as all you animal lovers out there know, you have to patronize “pet-friendly” motels. These typically tack on a surcharge that ranges from $5 to $30, depending on how upscale the establishment is.

I know. I can hear you asking: Why bother to declare the cat? Just stay at motels where you don’t have to enter through the lobby, and ask for a room at the back.

Despite a lifetime of Sagittarian procrastination, I find it difficult to lie about traveling with a cat, particularly when a sign at the front desk warns that an $85 fee will be assessed if you bring an “undeclared” pet to a room.

This must be my natal Jupiter in Sagittarius at the midpoint of the transiting Saturn in Virgo/Uranus in Pisces opposition: Traveling with a cat named Bogey.

I love Bogey, but I have to admit that I got really tired of taking apart the kitty carrier, using the bottom for a litter box, cleaning it out, and putting it back together again.

Luckily, in Rio Rancho, N.M., I discovered eco-friendly disposable cat boxes at a PetSmart that made my life a lot easier, especially when I had to set up the litter box in the passenger seat in response to a pointed “Meow.” (You’ll be glad to know that I stopped the Jeep in order to do this.)

I guess I could have put Bogey on a harness and taken him for “walks” at the rest stops the way dog owners do. But I just didn’t feel right doing that. Cats aren’t meant to be on a leash. So I ended up turning the Jeep into a moving litter box.

Maybe one of the car companies will add a litter box as an extra, the way they have with drink holders and TVs. I’ll put my money on a Japanese car maker to do the honors, since the Japanese excel at disposing of waste in a civilized fashion.

If you’ve ever worn special Hello Kitty slippers to step into the bathroom of a Japanese home, you know what I’m talking about.

It’s a Muji, Muji, Muji, Muji World

If there is a retailer out there that captures the essence of Saturn in Virgo, it’s Japan’s Muji, which adheres to the philosophy that “modesty and discretion are, together, the better part of style.” 

Modesty? Discretion? Yes folks, the times they are a-changin’. It’s my belief that the glory days of flashy designer labels ended when Saturn left Leo on Sept. 2, 2007.  As the economy turns sour, even rich people are going to stop flaunting their wealth, unless they happen to be in China or India.

Ralph Lauren, one of the smartest businessmen around, is rolling out the American Living line at J.C. Penney (JCP). Although Isaac Mizrahi and others have been doing cheap chic at Target for some time, now that Ralph is going mass market I’m sure a downturn is coming. Want more proof that a recession on the way? Lauren’s selling shares in his company, Polo Ralph Lauren. According to the AP, he recently exercised options for 5,200 shares at $19.13 and sold them for $65 each. (The stock closed Mar. 27 at $61.)

O.K., enough about Ralph already. Back to Muji. In my humble opinion, Muji is the perfect (there’s a Saturn in Virgo word for you!)  embodiment of the new low-impact ethos. Its first New York store opened in Soho last November . Here’s the link to the Muji Web site:

The site is pretty minimalist. To get a better idea of Muji’s product line, which includes things like cardboard speakers, you may want to click on:

Muji reminds me a little of Ikea, but with better quality and more eco-consciousness, and also of the now-defunct Conran’s before Sir Terence overextended himself and the chain went down the tubes.

When it comes to conserving energy and minimizing waste, we have a lot to learn from the Land of the Rising Sun. O.K., maybe the rest of the world doesn’t need more Hello Kitty! merchandise or special slippers for the bathroom, but Japan really got the energy crisis the first time around, in the Seventies. There’s not a lot of room for waste in Japan because it’s one of the world’s most densely populated countries, with close to 130 million people on that archipelago, or 343 persons per square kilometer.

As the only country in the world that has been the recipient of a nuclear bomb, Japan and its citizens have a unique perspective on the damage that man can inflict on his fellow man and on the environment. Yes, I know that this is the same country that gave us the Bataan death march (, but some people actually learn from their mistakes.

Maybe the cruel samarai is still hiding behind those smiling faces. Nevertheless, the Japanese seem to do a good job of sublimating their sadistic tendencies with anime, as opposed to starting wars on false evidence of nuclear weapons production.

Lest you think I’m nuts for Nippon, I’ll admit my feelings were a little hurt after all the Japanese got out of the mineral bath when this Amazon gaijin jumped in. But I’m still mad about Muji!